With the over-the-top (OTT) platforms taking the mainstream and intending to regulate the content on OTT, social media platforms, and other applications, the Centre has come up with the new IT Rules, the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (hereinafter referred to as IT Rules, 2021″).
These new IT Rules, 2021 are framed in pursuance of observations made by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in 2018 to curb child pornography and other objectionable content on digital platforms and other applications.
To regulate the social media intermediaries several guidelines were set up under the IT Rules, 2021 of which the rule ‘enabling the identity of the originator’ is creating much furor among the social media users as well as the intermediaries.
The rule stipulates that significant social media intermediaries primarily engaged in messaging services shall enable identification of the first originator of the information if such information is deemed a threat to sovereignty, security of the state, and public order.
Raising concern over the privacy of its users and its privacy policies, which enables end-to-end encryption of the data shared between users, leading messaging service provider WhatsApp has moved the Hon’ble Delhi High Court challenging the said rule. It was opined that tracing the originator would break the end-to-end encryption of data shared and thereby compromises the user’s right to privacy.
In challenging the traceability provision, WhatsApp authorities seem to be relying on the landmark judgment KS Puttswamy versus. Union of India upheld the right to privacy as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.